IFRS 15, policies, para 35(c), no alternative use, enforceable right to payment for performance to date, construction, software

BAE Systems plc – Annual report – 31 December 2021

Industry: manufacturing; aerospace

Basis of preparation (extract)

Key sources of estimation uncertainty (extract)

1. Segmental analysis and revenue recognition (extract)

Revenue and profit recognition

Revenue represents income derived from contracts for the provision of goods and services, over time or at a point in time, by the Group to customers in exchange for consideration in the ordinary course of the Group’s activities.

The Group accounts for revenue in accordance with IFRS 15 Revenue from Contracts with Customers. For most of the Group’s contracts, revenue and associated margin are recognised progressively over time as costs are incurred, and as risks have been mitigated or retired.

The ultimate profitability of contracts is based on estimates of revenue and costs, including allowances for technical and other risks which are reliant on the knowledge and experience of the Group’s project managers, engineers, and finance and commercial professionals. Revenue and cost estimates are reviewed and updated at least quarterly, and more frequently as determined by events and circumstances.

The Group typically enters into the following types of contracts with customers:

  • to design, build or create assets uniquely available to the customer such as ships and aircraft;
  • to service or maintain assets over a period of time;
  • to give access to software and licences; and
  • to offer bespoke services to customers, for example through training or the offering of cyber, intelligence and security capabilities.

Revenue is recognised against each of these types of contracts in line with the following accounting policies.

Performance obligations

Upon approval by the parties to a contract, the contract is assessed to identify each promise to transfer either a distinct good or service or a series of distinct goods or services that are substantially the same and have the same pattern of transfer to the customer. Goods and services are distinct and accounted for as separate performance obligations in the contract if the customer can benefit from them either on their own or together with other resources that are readily available to the customer and they are separately identifiable in the contract.

The Group provides warranties to its customers to give them assurance that its products and services will function in line with agreed-upon specifications. Warranties are not provided separately and, therefore, do not represent separate performance obligations. A provision for warranties is recognised when the underlying products and services are sold (see note 25 for further detail).

Transaction price

At the start of the contract, the total transaction price is estimated as the amount of consideration to which the Group expects to be entitled in exchange for transferring the promised goods and services to the customer, excluding sales taxes. Variable consideration, such as variable price mechanisms, is included based on the expected value or most likely amount only to the extent that it is highly probable that there will not be a reversal in the amount of cumulative revenue recognised. The transaction price does not include estimates of consideration resulting from contract modifications, such as change orders, until they have been approved by the parties to the contract. The total transaction price is allocated to the performance obligations identified in the contract in proportion to their relative stand-alone selling prices. Given the bespoke nature of many of the Group’s products and services, which are designed and/or manufactured under contract to the customer’s individual specifications, there are typically no observable stand-alone selling prices. Instead, stand-alone selling prices are typically estimated based on expected costs plus contract margin consistent with the Group’s pricing principles.

Whilst payment terms vary from contract to contract, on many of the Group’s contracts, an element of the transaction price is received in advance of delivery. When cash is received in advance of goods or services being delivered, a contract liability is recognised. The Group therefore has significant contract liabilities (note 22). The Group’s contracts are not considered to include significant financing components on the basis that there is no difference between the consideration and the cash selling price. UK Ministry of Defence contracting rules prohibit the inclusion of financing in the sales price. Negotiations on competitive international export contracts do not make allowance for the cash payment profile.

Revenue and profit recognition

Revenue is recognised as performance obligations are satisfied as control of the goods and services is transferred to the customer.

For each performance obligation within a contract, the Group determines whether it is satisfied over time or at a point in time. Performance obligations are satisfied over time if one of the following criteria is satisfied:

  • the customer simultaneously receives and consumes the benefits provided by the Group’s performance as it performs;
  • the Group’s performance creates or enhances an asset that the customer controls as the asset is created or enhanced; or
  • the Group’s performance does not create an asset with an alternative use to the Group and it has an enforceable right to payment for performance completed to date.

The Group has determined that most of its contracts satisfy the over time criteria, either because the customer simultaneously receives and consumes the benefits provided by the Group’s performance as it is performed (typically services or support contracts, for example in the case of ongoing maintenance and support of aircraft and flying capability), or the Group’s performance does not create an asset with an alternative use to the Group and it has an enforceable right to payment for performance completed to date (typically development or production contracts, such as in the production of ships or aircraft to customers’ unique specifications).

For each performance obligation to be recognised over time, the Group recognises revenue using an input method, based on costs incurred in the period. Revenue and attributable margin are calculated by reference to reliable estimates of transaction price and total expected costs, after making suitable allowances for technical and other risks including the impact of COVID-19 and climate change. Revenue and associated margin are therefore recognised progressively as costs are incurred, and as risks have been mitigated or retired. The Group has determined that this method appropriately depicts the Group’s performance in transferring control of the goods and services to the customer.

If the over time criteria for revenue recognition are not met, revenue is recognised at the point in time that control is transferred to the customer, which is usually when legal title passes to the customer and the business has the right to payment, for example, on delivery.

When it is probable that total contract costs will exceed total contract revenue, the expected loss is recognised immediately as an expense.

Software licences

The Group sells software licences either separately or together with other goods and services, including computer hardware and implementation, hosting and support. Revenue recognition in respect of software licences sold as part of a bundle of goods and services is considered separately when the licence is determined to be a separate performance obligation. Software licences either represent a right to access the Group’s intellectual property as it exists throughout the licence period or a right to use the Group’s intellectual property as it exists at the point in time at which the licence is granted. Revenue in respect of right to access licences is recognised over the licence term or, in relation to perpetual licences, over the related customer relationship and revenue in respect of right to use licences is recognised on delivery of the software to the customer or, if the customer chooses not to access and take delivery of the software, on expiry of the licence arrangement. A software licence is considered to be a right to access the Group’s intellectual property as it exists throughout the licence period if all of the following criteria are satisfied:

  • the contract requires, or the customer reasonably expects, that the Group will undertake activities that significantly affect the intellectual property; and
  • the licence directly exposes the customer to the effects of those activities; and
  • those activities do not result in the transfer of a good or service to the customer.

Contract modifications

The Group’s contracts are often amended for changes in customers’ requirements and specifications. A contract modification exists when the parties to the contract approve a modification that either changes existing or creates new enforceable rights and obligations. The effect of a contract modification on the transaction price and the Group’s measure of progress towards the satisfaction of the performance obligation to which it relates is recognised in one of the following ways:

1. prospectively, as an additional, separate contract;

2. prospectively, as a termination of the existing contract and creation of a new contract; or

3. as part of the original contract using a cumulative catch-up.

The majority of the Group’s contract modifications are treated under either 1 (for example, the requirement for additional distinct goods or services) or 3 (for example, a change in the specification of the distinct goods or services for a partially completed contract), although the facts and circumstances of any contract modification are considered individually as the types of modifications will vary contract-by-contract and may result in different accounting outcomes.

Costs to obtain a contract

The Group expenses pre-contract bidding costs which are incurred regardless of whether a contract is awarded. The Group does not typically incur costs to obtain contracts that it would not have incurred had the contracts not been awarded, such as sales commission.

Costs to fulfil a contract

Contract fulfilment costs in respect of over time contracts are expensed as incurred. Contract fulfilment costs in respect of point in time contracts are accounted for under IAS 2 Inventories.

13. Trade, other and contract receivables (extract)

Trade and contract receivables are measured at amortised cost under IFRS 9 Financial Instruments as they are held within a business model to collect contractual cash flows and these cash flows consist solely of payments of principal and interest on the principal amount outstanding.

Contract receivables represent amounts for which the Group has an unconditional right to consideration in respect of unbilled revenue recognised at the balance sheet date and comprise costs incurred plus attributable margin.

Trade receivables, contract receivables, amounts owed by equity accounted investments and finance lease receivables include a provision for expected credit losses. The Group measures the provision at an amount equal to lifetime expected credit losses, estimated by reference to past experience and relevant forward-looking factors.

The Group writes off a receivable when there is objective evidence that the debtor is in significant financial difficulty and there is no realistic prospect of recovery, for example, when a debtor enters bankruptcy or financial reorganisation.

US deferred compensation plan assets are measured at fair value in accordance with IAS 19 Employee Benefits.

22. Contract liabilities (extract)

Contract liabilities represent the obligation to transfer goods or services to a customer for which consideration has been received, or consideration is due, from the customer.